A Hong Kong style cafe serving western and Asian classics, for those who like pasta and sandwiches made for the Asian palette.
Looking for relief from the rain we came to Cambie Street in search of Chinese food and hot soup. My guest suggested “Copa Cafe”. I haven’t visited in a while, so was questioning whether she preferred somewhere else with a nicer setting. Little did I know, the place looked better than how I remembered it. The walls had a fresh coat of paint and they invested in decorative wall and ceiling features. Donuts rings surrounding the lights, stripes of coloured blocks, and multi-sized polka dots covered the walls. It was cartoony and fun, like their mascot. He was in a jolly chef with puffed up hat, an up curled moustache, and a cherry red tomato nose. He graced the awning and was pictured in an Andy Warhol spoofed painting by the front door.
We grabbed a booth and settled into exploring their extensive menu of Chinese flavours fused for a North American palette. A lot of it claimed to be French style, using the tag “cafe de Paris” in its title. Buttered mussels with a Caesar salad side, Spanish style baked rice, Russian style linguini, baked linguini in bolognaise, salmon carpaccio which looked a lot like smoked salmon, a creamy looking lobster bisque, white bread sandwiches, and French onion soup. The full picture menu helped me weed out the entire selection of “French” and Italian” like dishes; and the ones listen under “western style dishes”. I wouldn’t think to come to a Hong Kong style cafe to have either anyways. I flipped to the back of the menu and was content at choosing from the list of “Asian style dishes” that included various fried noodles and rice, stir fried chicken and/or tofu, vegetable spring rolls served in a glass goblet, and yellow curry.
As I was craving soup and the warmth that a portion may bring, I went for “Hot and sour soup”. This was suppose to be a small, but as you can see this bowl with a handle portion looked more like a large. This was a good indicator of the sizes of the dishes to come. As for the flavour, it was exactly as I expected it to be. That distinctive sour and tangy flavour to offset the hard strips of bamboo and carrot floating in the broth.
For my entree I got my usual. Something I knew I would enjoy, as I didn’t want to take a chance on anything else. “Sautéed beef fried rice noodle with Swiss sauce”. It could have used more flavour overall. The meat was overcooked and the noodles bland along side it. Nothing exciting, just a nostalgic childhood flavour.
My guest got something off their “Chinese double boiled soup combo”. You choose a dish from a list and it comes with a serving of steam rice. She went for the “Braised eggplant with salted fish and green onion hot pot” as it is not something she can prepare herself. The dish arrived at the table still sizzling, the sauce continued to bubble. The segments of eggplant were tender, coated evenly and generously in a nice, salty brown sauce. It’s flavour wasn’t too sour or too sweet, but it needed the rice to balance the dish.
The soup actually came first. I was most impressed by the white and blue single serve container it was presented in. The soup itself was a warming herbal soup with stewed chicken meat. I would have liked a soy sauce or dip to take with it.
When it came time to pay we had to do so at the register, they didn’t have a portable machine for guests to use. They also only take debit or cash, and no VISA purchases under $30. As was the service at this part of our interaction, the service in general was all pretty cut and dry throughout. They were prompt to take and deliver our food, and quicker to identify our needs. I would describe it as being efficient, like at many Chinese restaurants. They just didn’t check in on how we found the food, but I guess that is expected and not necessary.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It isn’t a place I would visit often or even crave food from again. Such places are a dime a dozen and I know a few with more consistent dishes. Though I was in awe of the value for price, each plate had on it enough food for two servings across two meals. Don’t deny your cravings.